Hungary has selected Áron Gauder’s Four Souls of Coyote as its representative in the 2024 international feature Oscar race.
In the film, a group of Native American teenagers confronts the crew of an oil pipeline project near the land of their ancestors. A grandfather from the tribe evokes the ancient tale of their creation myth to remind the other characters and the audience that humanity’s main challenges are universal and that we need to find our place in the great circle of creatures.
Four Souls of Coyote premiered at Annecy in June, winning the jury award. It later took best animated film at the Shanghai International Film Festival, the jury award for creative achievement at the Arizona International Film Festival, and the grand prix at the New Media Film Festival in L.A.
Gauder directed and wrote the film, which was executive produced by Réka Temple at Budapest-based Cinemon Entertainment.
Explaining the film’s message, Gauder said:
We wanted to show the aspects of creation and existence that are less known to Europeans. The film warns that man is a fallible creature who has responsibility for other creatures, too. We cannot consume limitlessly; we must also keep our desires in check because if we do not, then the created world will be at risk of destruction.
Having conducted profound research, we felt the responsibility to indigenous culture and wanted every bit of the film to remain authentic and reflect our respect. The film’s message aims to be as inclusive as possible, inviting all of creation into the circle of dialogue of cooperation. We know that our film is a statement, not in any way an attack on any government policy; it is much more an ode to nature and to the wisdom of tribal people.
To ensure the film’s authenticity, Gauder worked closely with Charles Cambridge (Ph.D., University of Colorado), an American Indian consultant and enrolled member of the Navajo Tribe. The film was also heavily influenced by Native American women musicians, including Ulali, Mariee Siou, and Joanne Shenandoah.
After seeing the finished film, Cambridge said:
I am amazed with what I have seen. Stepping into the wonders of the tribal universe with the blending of the highest form of artistic storytelling, Four Souls of Coyote is a gift to the wonders of humanity and the mystery of tribal people.
Gebeka International is handling global sales for the film. No U.S. screenings are currently scheduled, but the film will screen at the Edmonton International Film Festival on 26 September.